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|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS MATTHEW CURRAN
THE KiD iS DYNAMiTE!Itís all too easy to say that the nineteen-year-old guitar slinger MATTHEW CURRAN was born in the wrong decade due to his embrace of JIMMY PAGE-styled riffs, but when the tedium of todayís pop set is considered, we need a MATTHEW CURRAN now more than ever. Well versed in the ways of the six-string by the time he was seven, CURRAN cut his teeth in such New York City clubs as CBGBís and B.B. KINGís when most kids his age are at home writing book reports. Hell! Heís even shared stages with the likes of THE SCORPIONS and DEEP PURPLE when he was twelve. Believe it or not, CURRAN has got life experience and heís got chops and they all find their way onto his blistering self-produced debut SIMPLIFY. ďThe album ĎSIMPLIFYí was based on stuff that I believe in.Ē says CURRAN ďIím really into the Zen Movement and the Transcendentalism. The idea behind ĎSIMPLIFYí was that I donít need a lot of material things to make me happy. Who you are is who you are on the inside. Itís sort of Transcendentalism compressed into rock music.Ē
MATTHEW CURRAN TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT HiS DEBUT ALBUM SiMPLiFY
GROWiNG UP WiTH ROCK N ROLL
AND EARNiNG HiS CHOPS THE HARD WAY
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
ROCKWIRED spoke with MATTHEW CURRAN over the phone. Here is how it went.
Youíve got a great CD kid! Now that itís out there for people to hear and the work that has gone into it is behind you, how do you feel about the finished product? Real quick did you just call me TED?
No, I called you ďkidĒ. Youíre a kid to me. Iím thirty-something and youíre in your twenties.
Actually, Iím nineteen.
Thatís more of a kid then twenty.
Thatís cool! I like being called ďkidĒ.
Enjoy it while you can.
The new album is cool. Itís all self-produced. I did it all at my home studio in my basement. I learned production from KIRKYANO who has engineered for people like MARIAH CAREY and this band called SOULLIVE. During my first two years of high school, every weekend I would go to the studio and learn how to engineer and produce and then I made my own record. I didnít have to pay for studio time that was the beautiful thing. For a first attempt, Iím really proud of it. The vision got out. When the album is done there are always things that you would like to add on or do differently, but I think that it serves its purpose as a first shot.
I think so. It doesnít even sound like a first album.
Well thanks I appreciate that! Iím working on album number two right now and Iím gonna add more acoustic sounds. Itís going to be more GEORGE HARRISON-esque and a little more psychedelic. Thatís going to be my approach.
So in terms of musical influence, where does it come from? Does it come from the parents? Youíre too young to even know who GEORGE HARRISON is.
Itís pretty simple. When you grow up in a household where both of your parents play guitar and you have a grandfather that used to play at CARNEGIE HALL, you kind of suck it all up. When I was two years old I was dancing to things like MICHAEL JACKSON and DIRE STRAITS just because it was so prevalent. I started playing guitar when I was seven-and-a-half and when I was ten, my dad noticed my ability to play. I could play almost every frickiní LED ZEPPELIN lead that was out there. My dad would take me to open jams in New York City with all of these studio cats that would play with SANTANA, THE DOOBIE BROTHERS and STEELY DAN. People saw me play and we formed a cover band with all of these musicians and then I started writing when I was twelve. It really grew from music that my dad liked. As a kid, I would go home from school and listen to LED ZEPPELINís ĎHOUSES OF THE HOLYí and would always play this one song ĎDANCING DAYSí because I couldnít figure out how JIMMY PAGE did all of those over dubs with the slide guitar. It dumbfounded me. My influences are JIMI HENDRIX, JIMMY PAGE and ERIC CLAPTON. I also like a lot of newer stuff like THE CHILI PEPPERS and THE MARS VOLTA. Personally I like a lot of new age music- not just to relax to Ė I like the whole symphonic sound also. Eventually I want to get to that pointing my music. I like symphonies. Those are some of my influences.
What did you have to write about when you were twelve?
At first it was instrumental stuff. Songwriting has a formula to it but sometimes youíve got to go outside of itís boundaries a little bit. I would study how other artists would formulate their songs and I would write my own guitar parts and put it all together. Itís all sequencing really. In the beginning, a lot of the songs came from things that would come to me in my dreams. When weíre kids, we have huge imaginations and a lot of it is not as filtered by the world. I wrote about simple feelings. The first song that I ever wrote was called ĎONLY IN MY DREAMSí and the song went ĎOnly in my dreams I feel free!í The album ĎSIMPLIFYí was based on stuff that I believe in. Iím really into the Zen Movement and the Transcendentalism. The idea behind SIMPLIFY was that I donít need a lot of material things to make me happy. Who you are is who you are on the inside. Itís sort of Transcendentalism compressed into rock music.
So thatís the kind of place that you are coming from as a songwriter?
Oh yeah. We all go through stuff and I think my best songs happen when I feel like Iím about to pop. The song kind of forms itself in ten minutes and then you go ĎWhat the hell! Did I actually write that?í It kind of flows and Iím still trying to find my writing flow. When it flows, you arenít aware that you are writing it. Itís just there for you. A lot of my songwriting is based around a guitar lick. I read an interview with JIMMY PAGE and he said that LED ZEPPELIN is a riff-based band and that that was how he had intended it to be and that is what I do. I write a riff and put together a couple of chords. I write my melodies on the guitar and then I will actually sing it. The guitar is really helpful tool for me. It really helps me with my singing. I base everything off of a riff. Thatís how I roll.
Having been trained in a studio, do you rely on technology much or is it just an acoustic guitar and a notepad?
I use all of the techniques that you just said. If it sounds good with an acoustic guitar and your voice then it works. With some songs, I will create a riff, record it on my computer and forget about it for a few months and go back to it and go ĎAh! Now this makes sense!í I write a lot of licks and they are ingrained in my subconscious and then months later they pop out. Sometimes the things that we program into our brains arenít important in the present but itís important in the future so I never throw anything out. If I feel like a song is not going to go anywhere, I just put it to the side. I cut and paste a lot of stuff and you take all of the pieces and you make it into its own monster.
From ĎSIMPLIFYí, what songs stand out for you the most and why?
Probably ĎTHE VIBEí. I fooled a lot of people with that one. My friend DOUG LEVIN Ė who is my age - played tenor sax filtered through an auto-wah effect and distortion and people think itís like JOHN POPPER from BLUES TRAVELER playing the blues harp. I like how it refrains and I like the general feel of the song and the vibe of it. Itís just about having fun. Itís a song for everyone and I think most people enjoy it. When I started recording ĎSIMPLIFYí Ė the album Ė it actually wasnít supposed to be an album. I recorded ĎSIMPLIFYí to test if I could actually finish and record a song. After that, I recorded seven other songs and over three months I made the album. I never intended to make an album. It was kind of a goof.
Being nineteen years old canít be easy for doing gigs.
No. A lot of places are twenty-one and up but that really doesnít matter. When I was twelve, I was playing in bars that were twenty-one and over because I was a performer. They actually made a cute little rise for me so they could all see my face because I was so short. I wish I had pictures. It gets easier. I learned from a young age Ė when I was eleven Ė that you pack up and break things down. When you are playing clubs, it is very business like. You have to maintain your time wisely. In high school there were a lot of bands that I thought were just slacking. I used to play local venues but I was always used to playing with older musicians. I feel very fortunate that I learned all of that at a very young age. I donít brag about it. It was just an added benefit.
Talk about the business end of it. Given your age, Iím assuming that family is there for you.
My dad has been helping me for the longest time. Heís been financially supportive but a lot of it Iím doing on my own now. He started me off in the right direction and Iím learning to maintain my own business skills. Iím an adult technically and my dad is like ĎYouíve got to learn some day.í Iím learning a lot everyday and my dad has a really good business sense. I personally donít like business but in music, it is something that you have to learn.
What are you studying in school?
Right now itís Liberal Arts but leaning more towards Communications. Iím more undecided than anything. I know that Iím a very artistic person and Iím really good with people and love helping them. It goes hand in hand I guess. Iím in my sophomore year so I am going to have to decide soon. What that may be it will definitely be integrated into what Iím doing now. I donít want to study music in college because I can always study that on my own.
What is your musical mission?
Weíre a three piece band that is trying to bring musicality back into music. All of this pop stuff on the radio just frustrates me.
Has it always frustrated you?
Music has multi-purposes. It can have a spiritual connection, it can make you dance and itís something that can work with your emotions. Pop music has its place because it wants to make you dance but I think when there is to much of that, you start to lose the artistry. Thatís what Iíve got to say.
What would you like someone to come away with after theyíve heard SIMPLIFY?
How do you mean?
What would you like them to feel? What would you like them to think?
Iíd like for the thing to give them a sense of happiness obviously and a sense of hope as well. Some people gravitate to darker songs and some people gravitate to lighter songs and whatever people are attracted to, I just want people to enjoy themselves. Thatís why we listen to music, isnít it?